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Pensacola chemical plant explosion under investigation

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Now the latest on the investigation into an explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Pensacola.

Crews were called to the Reichhold Chemical Plant off Pace Boulevard at around 10:30 Thursday night.

Bill Torrence of Reichold Chemicals says a tank caught fire in a closed off area called a "tank farm" that contains several other tanks.

A viewer sent us photos showing a large plume of smoke over the plant Thursday night.

Torrence says the company is conducting its own investigation and that he can't say yet what was burning or if any chemicals were released.

He says the fire was contained within a half-hour.

Police and fire authorities say residents in the area did not need to evacuate.

Firefighters were on the scene for about three hours.

People who live nearby say they heard loud blasts. Many of them are very alarmed by what happened.

"The whole neighborhood could've been in trouble. And it was late at night. We got so many kids that it would've been a problem tryin' to get them out," said Willie Hayes, who lives near the plant.

"All you seen was like polices and ambulances rushing. You seen the cloud of smoke. It was crazy," said A'Keem Mouton.

The company makes unsaturated polyester and vinyl resins for composites used in products ranging from bathtubs to turbine blades.

It also makes coatings used in paints and varnishes. Many of the chemicals it uses are toxic.   

The State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire which they say caused $1 million in damage.

No one was hurt.